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  1.  (8905.21)
    @Rootfiremember: I can point to this New Yorker article from 2006 as mentioning it specifically, but it's not available online, and I've misplaced the hard copy I recently read of it. It specifically mentioned that a number of bhopa were made literate, and after that they had to being 'refreshing' their memory of the epics from little books as they recited them, a practice that had not previously been necessary.
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      CommentAuthorJ.Brennan
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010
     (8905.22)
    It specifically mentioned that a number of bhopa were made literate, and after that they had to being 'refreshing' their memory of the epics from little books as they recited them, a practice that had not previously been necessary.


    @David Matthew: That makes me wonder whether, prior to literacy, these bhopa were just reciting and performing with extemporaneous flourish, each recitation differing and possibly evolving. Once literate and their epic codified, the bhopa may have felt obligated to recite the codified version perfectly, and thus needed to refresh their memory.

    As to the topic at hand: I'm not sure our ability to memorize has decreased as much as the sheer volume of human knowledge has grown exponentially.
  2.  (8905.23)
    I do think that to some degree we're setting up a straw man argument, though. This guy isn't just saying that we're getting lazy, he's also got clear evidence that use of the Internet has an effect on how we allot attention and the length of attention spans.

    I've certainly got my own focus problems, and I think that
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      CommentAuthorsneak046
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010
     (8905.24)
    Perhaps the internet will make us all so stupid we will all need to watch the tutorial videos mentioned in this other thread.

    Interesting Charlie Brooker article here that is kinda tangentially related.
    • CommentAuthorlooneynerd
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010
     (8905.25)
    Here's my question. We're now at the point where there are a pretty decent number of people (especially younger people, ala 18 and younger) that have lives completely adapted to using (if not outright dependency on in some cases) the internet. Now what were to happen if we suddenly lost access permanently? Would those same people be able to handle it? I've heard several professors remark that graduate students in research fields seem markedly lazier than in earlier generations, and I've heard many times at academic conferences that the number of terminal Master's Degrees being awarded seem to be rising because students seem unable to any kind of research method other than the internet. Now, to be perfectly a fair a lot of this is probably down to the bickering that you'd have about the "good ol' days" anyway, but it's a situation that I think merits analysis.
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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010
     (8905.26)
    > This guy isn't just saying that we're getting lazy, he's also got clear evidence that use of the Internet has an effect on how we allot attention and the length of attention spans.

    The Guardian review posted above flatly denies this, and I deny it as well. Carr really isn't using much more than the "plural of anecdote" here. And I would offer as useful rejoinders, works such as /Everything Bad Is Good For You/ which highlight how the complexity of the information environment is causing our brains to stretch and grow.
    • CommentAuthorErisah
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010
     (8905.27)
    I'm going to put myself out there and say that the internet isn't so much something that makes people stupid as a useful outlet to be stupid through. I for example occasionally neglect my uni work because I'm addicted to online fiction. Before I had my laptop, I did the exact same thing with paperbacks. I switched because it's stealthier reading online ("Of course I'm working. What does it look like?"), and because I can make the font bigger so I don't wreck my eyes further than I already have. The internet is just an enabler.

    @ David Matthew: I too am feeling more than a little sceptical of the claim that literacy actually physically removes the ability to remember large tracts of information that have been previously learnt by rote.

    I'm willing to bet that there are more than a few confounding factors to this claim. For example, did the Bhopas in question recite the epics as often as they had been previously while they were learning to read and write? Did they use the little books because they were more convenient or standardized? I think I want to see the original article before I take your word on this one.

    Just because there is a correlation between literacy rates rising and the loss of ancient oral traditions does not mean that these oral traditions are lost within a single individual of a generation who previously could recite these things. I don't think I've ever heard of people spontaneously developing mental blocks about things they've practiced for years simply upon the acquisition of new information. It'd be like if you taught a musician who played by ear to read music, and they spontaneously lost their ability to jam. I don't see it.
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      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010
     (8905.28)
    @looneynerd - Have those same people (those ensconced in internet research) not heard of libraries, those great repositories of information that date back millenia? The internet is a tool (among other things), and the people that use are no different than people who used libraries even a decade ago. Lazy researchers will be lazy no matter what tools they have at their disposal, and what will separate good work from bad should, hopefully, be self-evident.

    Internet is to knowledge as Photoshop is to art.
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      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010
     (8905.29)
    but what about speling and grammer i don know about u but i think in tweny yeers well al be stupid ok bye

    Imagine historians of the future looking at people's emails, remarking on spelling mistakes and/or grammar errors as if they held an insight into that person's life.

    @looneynerd - yeah, I've often thought about what will happen when the Internet goes down. ZOMG, HOW WILL PEOPLE LIVE?
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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010 edited
     (8905.30)
    Yes, and typing has made everyone have terrible handwriting. Oh, I weep for the demise of calligraphy! Every student must immediately be issued a quill pen and an ink bottle, so they may concentrate on the mechanics of penmanship to the exclusion of content.
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      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010
     (8905.31)
    @Finagle - I don't know about you but my penmanship is terrible.
  3.  (8905.32)
    I memorize stuff when looking it up takes too much time. I used to know all the extensions (had to be 50+) when I worked as a weekend concierge, but as I no longer need to remember them, it's a bit fuzzy. I currently can memorize the order of the crusts we are making at work and keep track of the progress. Of course, there are lots of things I remember because they are interesting to me. Literacy, and the ability to look up things, gives people a chance to know and learn more, not less. It also improves accuracy. What people choose to do with it is their own decision.
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      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010 edited
     (8905.33)
    @mister hex - My penmanship was terrible before the internet. In cursive and in block.

    Still is, for that matter.

    EDIT: @trini - That's exactly the point. People memorize what they have to, or what they do repeatedly. I still know the PLU number of bananas (4011) from the five years I spent working in a grocery store. If memorization and regurgitation were all it took to be "smart", No Child Left Behind would have been a smashing success.
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      CommentAuthorHEY APATHY!
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010 edited
     (8905.34)
    I have had this terrible flu and fevers all week so coming in here to discuss my concerns on the subject is sort of like a sweaty, delusional, patient in hysteria running into a coffee shop and joining the conversation. In ‘real life” I’d never do that. This is just one of the many ways the internet has rewired my brain. I have only been working on the computer for two years and, in comparison, am coming from an extremely different environment. I used to be a street performer where all communications were initially determined through the interpretation of subtle body language. For example I could actually accurately predict who was going to purchase a drawing by examining the audiences feet (I can’t explain it but it worked).

    When I stopped performing in the streets full time and switched to working online, I had a very difficult time with the new thought patterns. I used to complain about all the strange habits I was forming and the new ways I had to start thinking about things. Oddly enough I can’t specifically remember any of those complaints today. So coming back to the main topic of this thread, and to my fevers, all week I have been stuck in a schizophrenic internet nightmare. In my feverish state I keep thinking about things online, in fragments. For a moment I want to blog, then I get tired and look for movies, which leads to researching films and then out of nowhere I decide to upload some drawings or something else until I finally give up. I have been sick many times in my life but have never experienced such a horribly inattentive fever. I used to just put on a film and lie there.

    As a result of seeing this thread I also noticed a huge shift in the way I have been developing my artworks. Before going online I used to work exclusively on the creation of one artwork ( usually a series of drawings) for a set period of time and then find a way to promote it. Now I do fifty thousand online things everyday and am producing a number simultaneous projects but none as extensive as my previous studies. I admit I am little frightened by all of this. Even this morning I was trying to read in the park but kept thinking of the various online tasks I have to complete. Granted the whole experience has been amplified by the hallucinatory state of my current illness.

    On the bright side of going online I do appreciate the access to information, the ability to communicate with people who would be otherwise inaccessible, and how it forces us to read and write, however the extensive restructuring and fragmentation of thought processes is undoubtedly a concern and I am going to take a moment to re-think the way I’ve been using the computer. Yes the internet is an extraordinary and necessary tool to be mastered, but as with all things used in ignorance or in excess…

    @MISTERHEX there is still lot’s of good writing online, we have 40 years until complete stupidity according to Orwell, I mean it’s not like we are living in an age of propaganda, state terrorism, and mass mind control or that some diabolical ideology bent on commercial consumption has forced us all to constantly stare at little flickering boxes or anything.
  4.  (8905.35)
    re: doubters about literacy killing oral epic memory:

    *shrug*. All I can do is report what I've read. I'm not qualified to make pronouncements one way or another about the research.
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      CommentAuthorD.J.
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2010
     (8905.36)
    I absolutely adore when inane articles like this are brought to attention, and you guys always seem to destroy it thoroughly within a few clever posts. Seems to happen a lot.

    Anyway, even if everything the guy says is true, it's only really a problem if technology stops working (which we should obviously, definitely be worried about all day). But even then, we'd simply adapt from it just as we adapted to it.
  5.  (8905.37)
    @John Skylar -- Heh heh!
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeSep 14th 2010
     (8905.38)
    @mr hex

    Spelling has historically always been pretty bad, that's not a recent thing.

    In the Netherlands writing rules were only introduced the 19th century...before that, people simply had to make an informed guess when they were writing. Sometimes one frequently occurring word would be written in several different ways in the same text.

    The internet certainly gives some people an excuse for being stupid, but without the web they'd probably be just as dumb. I think that overall the web has a positive effect on people's education, and on our culture.
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      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeSep 14th 2010
     (8905.39)
    @ Verus - Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. English was very similar, not that long ago. But a cursory glance at any comments thread anywhere gives one the impression that the people commenting are : A) typing with one hand tied behind their backs (or worse yet, down their pants) B) functionally retarded or C) both. And don't even get me started on misused homonyms or commonly misspelled words. (Hint - "Rouge" is not and never was a member of the X-Men.)

    I always get cross with myself when I spell someone's name wrong.

    The real problem with the Internet, to my eyes, is the Cloak of Anonymity. People can act like right horrible cunts to each other because they don't see the person on the other end as being "real" ; they're just a screen name. Then again, people have been treating other people like right horrible cunts for a good few thousand years, it's just that the Internet (which theoretically SHOULD bring us all together as one big happy family - but doesn't) facilitates assholishness. (Note - "asholishness" is not a word.)
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeSep 14th 2010
     (8905.40)
    True but I have more traumatic memories of schoolyard bullies than of any internet troll...and as long as I can understand what teh people of teh intarwub mean, I don't give a shit about their spelling.

    That Cloak of Anonimity thing can be annoying yes, but compared to the enormous benefit the web has to offer it's not very disturbing.